With the USA automatically slated to co-host the 2026 World Cup, next year’s Gold Cup offers rare opportunities.
DOHA, Qatar – American football’s success at the World Cup remains a dream.
The US team looked better at this year’s World Cup, but the results were the same as in 2010 and 2014. The Americans were eliminated in the round of 16 on Saturday after a 3-1 defeat by the Netherlands.
“We’ve shown that we can compete with top teams and we just want to change the narrative because we feel that over the past few years we obviously haven’t gotten enough respect for US football and the way we play. ‘ said midfielder Weston McKennie. “I think we did a bit of that at this World Cup.”
EXPECTATION VS. PERFOMANCE
Expectations were high for a team with a core of young, rising stars playing in some of Europe’s top leagues.
No North and Central American and Caribbean nation has reached the semi-finals since the United States in 1930.
Draws against Wales and England were followed by a 1-0 win against Iran to secure a place in the knockout rounds, and the USA achieved the minimum not to be branded a failure. The trip home from the group stage would have been a disappointment had one rebuilt expectations of coach Gregg Berhalter’s side.
WHO IS OUT?
Berhalter was hired from Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew in December 2018 on the recommendation of Earnie Stewart, now the US Athletic Director.
Berhalter took over 14 months after the USA lost in Trinidad and Tobago, failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia and ended a streak of seven consecutive appearances in the tournament. Part of the fans repeatedly criticized him for his squad selection and tactics and some would prefer a foreign coach with more European experience.
His contract expires this month – he was paid $1.29 million for the fiscal year ending March 2021, according to the most recent Football Association financial report. Berhalter has led the Americans to 37 wins, 11 losses and 12 draws.
After losing to the Dutch, Berhalter didn’t want to say if he wanted to stay.
“Over the next few weeks I’m going to clear my head, sit down and think about what’s next,” he said.
Defender Tim Ream, 35, was the oldest player in a 26-man squad who was the second youngest at the tournament. At the final whistle he stood motionless, his voice cracking as he talked about the experience.
“I’m just thinking about the journey, really, where I’ve really been, where I’m from,” he said. “I’ve been in the program for 12 years and have never guaranteed anything. Obviously a lot of these guys are guaranteed another World Cup and for me that’s not going to happen – and what I’m trying to convey is treating every single training session as if it were their last, every single game as if it were their last. ”
A core group is led by Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie (both 24), Tyler Adams (23) and Yunus Musah (20), joined by Tim Weah and Brenden Aaronson (both 22) and Gio Reyna (20).
“We didn’t qualify for the last World Cup and we’re in the round of 16 here. We’ve definitely come a long way,” said Pulisic. “There are certainly moments that we can be proud of. But we don’t want to experience that again and put ourselves in a position to win tournaments like this.”
Central defenders and strikers remained unsettled for large stretches of the past cycle. Defenders Miles Robinson (25) and Chris Richards (22) missed the World Cup through injury.
Gabriel Slonina, an 18-year-old goalkeeper who will join Chelsea next month, appears to be the top American prospect. Midfielder Paxten Aaronson, Brenden’s 19-year-old brother, joins Eintracht Frankfurt. Ricardo Pepi, 19, was overlooked in the US squad after leading the team’s forwards with three goals in qualifying.
More than a dozen players eligible for the Under-20 squad play for European clubs, although most see no first-team playing time. It is difficult to predict whether any will appear. For every Pulisic and Reyna who become regulars as teenagers, come 10 or 20 stalls.
The CONCACAF Gold Cup will take place from June 26th to July 16th and most European based players should be available. With the USA automatically slated to co-host the 2026 World Cup, next year’s Gold Cup will be one of the few opportunities in the cycle to make the core group available for competitive matches.
MORE: FIFA announces the venues for the 2026 World Cup in the United States
https://www.king5.com/article/sports/soccer/world-cup/american-soccer-success-world-cup-2026/507-ef5d723d-f83d-472d-9f4d-9af91b7cde13 USA soccer eyes 2026 World Cup after defeat in Qatar